My peer, coconspirator, and friend John Kembel turned me on to this statement from MIT Media Lab prof John Maeda:
Amidst all the attention given to the sciences as to how they can lead to the cure of all diseases and daily problems of mankind, I believe that the biggest breakthrough will be the realization that the arts, which are conventionally considered "useless," will be recognized as the whole reason why we ever try to live longer or live more prosperously. The arts are the science of enjoying life.
A very compelling idea. And if you substitute the word “aesthetics” for “art”, you get very close to the “aesthetics matter – a lot” thesis advanced by Virginia Postrel. It’s all good.
..or as Matt Kahn, professor of Art and Design at Stanford, often says, “Science and engineering make life possible. Art makes it worth the trouble.” (He may be quoting or paraphrasing someone else.)